15 remarkable U.S. hotel bars and restaurants

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Getting a taste for some of the coolest hotel spots in the nation

When you picture hotel dining, if you imagine continental breakfasts in the lobby and minibars in your guest room, you haven’t seen nothing yet.

Hotels are on a whole new track, whipping out decadent restaurants and trendy lounges—the kinds that make you think, “Man, I can’t believe this is a hotel!” Even locals flock to these hotel hangouts to dabble in some of the coolest vibes in town.

Whether you’re in the market for the craftiest cocktail or some of the best views of the city, it’s practically your responsibility to soak up the rad ambience at these 15 restaurants and bars across the nation.

Marriott Marquis: San Francisco, California

Perched 39 stories in the sky with a floor-to-ceiling starburst window, View Lounge offers eye candy a new meaning. The hotel bar’s name says it all as it gives way to legendary views of San Francisco, stretching from east downtown to the bay. When you’ve got panoramas as good as this, you’ll be spoiled regardless of whether you head up for sunset or the starlight—just pray that Karl the Fog stays away. Located in San Fran’s eclectic, must-experience neighborhood of SoMa, this bar is just waiting for you to come in for some city-inspired cocktails, such as the Irish whiskey Golden Gate.

The NoMad Hotel: New York City, New York

At The NoMad Hotel’s Library Bar, you don’t have to whisper, but you may be tempted to thumb through a book between cocktails by the fireside. Rows of books line the walls, and they’re not just for show—it’s a well-thought out collection. The wooden spiral staircase invites you upstairs to further leaf through the volumes, while the rich mahogany bar lures you in for a taste of the Velvet Cobbler aperitif or the Star and Garter soft cocktail. Lingering in NYC’s famous Manhattan, just north of Madison Square Park, this rich, romantic library makes reading feel sexy.

The Rittenhouse: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Get out your pen and paper and get ready to write home about Lacroix at The Rittenhouse in Philadelphia’s architectural mecca, City Center. Crisp and elegant, this restaurant gives off high-class energy, as you dine on an expertly prepared seven-course tasting menu with a view of Rittenhouse Square. While there may be an air of simplicity to this ritzy restaurant, the 4,000-bottle wine cellar and caviar choices bring the hotel restaurant up to brag-worthy territory.

Hotel Zelos: San Francisco, California

Not all dirty habits are the kind you can’t talk about. In fact, Hotel Zelos’ Dirty Habit is the kind you’ll want to shout about from the rooftop lounge. Nestled on the fifth floor, surrounded by the concrete walls of the SoMa district, this secluded outdoor patio feels like the happenin’ neighborhood’s best kept secret. If the fire pit wall isn’t enough to warm you up, the cocktail list sure will. With choices like the Under the Sun with Plantation Pineapple Rum and Fowl Play with Wild Turkey Bourbon, the bartenders are all about concocting masterpieces with rare brown spirits.

Mandalay Bay: Las Vegas, Nevada

Photo via Yelp/Jason P.

You thought the clubs along the eccentric Vegas Strip were the hottest spots in town, but at minus5º Ice Bar, you’ll find yourself bundling up and prepping for one of the coolest bar experiences around. Sure, it’s five below, but that’s because the entire bar is sculpted out of ice, from the seats to the chandelier—even the cocktail glasses are made of frozen water. Pick a package, which suits you up in either a parka or faux fur coat, and then sip on specialty cocktails as you roam around the ice sculptures in this arctic, frozen playground.

SLS South Beach: Miami, Florida

South Beach is one of the hippest neighborhoods in Miami, and Bar Centro proves it, as liquid nitrogen and salt air accommodate the joint’s fancy cocktails. With an attention to detail like that, you know this place has got to be epic. The adventurous cocktails, like the Clean & Dirty Martini with olive brine air, are definitely not what you’d expect from a hotel bar, but neither are the vibes. Turn up the Miami heat by venturing around the outdoor patio; snag a seat overlooking the pool and feel the sultry sea breeze tousle your hair.

The Knickerbocker: New York City, New York

The Knickerbocker’s rooftop bar, St. Cloud, overlooks the Crossroads of the World, you know, Times Square? Talk about prime real estate. The buzzing energy and blinking lights never seem to cease on the streets below, but 16 floors above it all, there’s a sense of calm and sophistication. The VIP Skypods offer the best views of the Waterford Crystal ball (yes, the New Year’s Eve one), as the Cigar Lounge nods to a bygone era. With a Spicy Cadillac and the only rooftop views of Times Square, this hotel bar oozes exclusivity in must-see Midtown Manhattan.

Inn on the Cliffs: St. George, Utah

Dine at Cliffside Restaurant and you just may have trouble keeping eye contact with your dinner date. Yes, the views are that distracting, as this hotel restaurant looms over charming and historic St. George, with rolling valley views stretching out to Zion and Pine Valley Mountain in the distance. Don’t worry though, your plate of buttery seared flat-iron and glass of red wine are sure to bring you back to the present.

The Setai: Miami, Florida

Step out into the Bar and Courtyard at The Setai and you’ll soon realize what the alluring South Beach fuss is all about. It’s like walking into a tranquil spa, where palm trees border the fountain centerpiece and cushioned areas welcome you to mingle with some spirits under the Florida sun. As if it couldn’t get any better, DJs play sets every evening from Wednesday to Sunday. Settle into the good vibes with a plate of Kumamoto oysters and an oh-so-fitting Zen Rose cocktail.

The Cosmopolitan: Las Vegas, Nevada

The Vesper Bar is all shimmery and sparkly, making it impossible not to feel like a million bucks as you take a swig from a Bond-inspired cocktail. The glittery light fixtures, mirrored tiles, and silver trimmings complement the seductive purple flooring, but even with all these dazzling accents, your focus will be on the cocktail list. Offering arguably one of the craftiest elixir selections on the flashy Vegas Strip, this hotel bar serves up a rotating list of concoctions, from the gin Violet Femme to the rum Green Eyed Lady.

Hotel Sorella: Kansas City, Missouri

You didn’t expect to stumble across a cosmopolitan spot like this on your trip to Kansas City, but color you surprised, this urban rooftop is a gem. Located in the enchanting, Seville-inspired Country Club Plaza, Bar Rosso’s poolside terrace, sunset views, and swanky red décor just scratch the surface when it comes to describing its enticing ambience. Listen for the sound of the guitarist playing, and follow the strumming up to the top level, where an order of salsiccia pizza al forno and a glass of red wine are waiting for you.

The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa: Tucson, Arizona

All this time you thought that you had to go to Mexico to experience the gloriousness of a swim-up bar. Alas, Sabino’s Pool Bar & Grill brings the beauty of submerged bar stools north of the border. Located in the northern region of rustic and inviting Tucson, this aquatic oasis just goes to show that there’s really no better way to soak up the dry desert air than by blissfully sitting waist-deep in a pool with a frosty Chata Colada in one hand and a chile burger in the other. Hey, we never liked waiting 30 minutes to swim after eating anyway.

Hotel Murano: Tacoma, Washington

The bar’s name gives away its location, but if you didn’t know any better, you might think you’d arrived in an art gallery in the heart of Tacoma’s vibrant downtown. Lobby Bar feels more like a trendy art space than a hotel bar, as abstract glass structures and framed masterpieces spark conversation. The cocktails, too, are a work of art in their own right. Order the Chai Spiced Sidecar and admire the presentation before downing the deliciousness.

The Sky Hotel: Aspen, Colorado

Summer or winter, 39 Degrees brings the chill factor. The apres-ski party rolls off the slopes and into this hotel lounge in the cozy town of adventure-focused Aspen. Slip into the steamy hot tub on the patio, curl up by the fireplace, or cannonball into the heated pool. Not your typical mountain lodge, this alpine locale gives off urban edge with city sleek cocktails, like the Double Diamond with bourbon and blackberry, and the vodka and rum Madame Butterfly.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa: Cary, North Carolina

At Herons, all eyes are on the culinary team in the kitchen, which is on full view from the dining room. But if you’re not watching the kitchen action, you’re probably eying the farm-to-fork creations going by. Or maybe you’re gazing out the window at the lush greenery—you are in the whimsical, forested region of Cary, after all. Add on the intricate Dale Chihuly sculpture and the seemingly never-ending wine list, and this fancy hotel restaurant just got our vote.

What are other hotel bars and restaurants that blow you away?

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Chloe Mulliner

As a staff writer for Expedia, Chloe Mulliner is dedicated to providing top travel tips for your jaunts around the world. She believes there are adventures to be had on every inch of the globe from surf spots on the Peruvian coast to the charming villages of the English countryside. Chloe specializes in showcasing all the must-see attractions on your travel wish list. She lives by the belief that every adventure is a story worth sharing.

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